Chapter 53

Ironically Myrah was, in fact shopping.  She was with Jill trying on sweaters at Zurig the newest store in the mall to sell women’s clothing.  The décor was black and white art deco columns and wall to wall mirrors.  The sound system played something tribal and thundering.

“How do you always know what haircut is going to look best on you?”  The woman mused as she looked across the dressing room at her friend’s newest trim.  The style was decidedly retro with a new spin on it. 

Jill blinked a few times.  “I think about it.”  She said as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

The girl had gone all out with this one Myrah thought admiringly to herself.  She’d shaved it into a grid pattern on one side, dyed the patch ice blue and then had the other end of her hair bound up into a spiky pony tail.  To her, Jill looked like some kind of pop singer from the ‘80’s that had been given a futuristic makeover.  “You should be some kind of stylist.”  She commented.

Jill was squeezing herself into a tight fitting black turtleneck.  She wore no bra and she struggled to push the hem below her breast.  “I wouldn’t know where to even begin with that.”  She said giving off a heavy sigh.

Myrah shrugged.  “You take classes I guess.”  She said.  “The important thing is that you’re good at it.”  She herself was turning and posing before one of the full length mirrors that hung at one end of the open dressing room.  Around them, other women clumsily stepped into skirts or tried on shirts.  The room was awash in customers changing clothes and employees collecting cast off garments while taking orders and rushing off to fetch new ones. 

“I don’t think I could do it.”  Jill frowned.  “All I do is picture the way that I look and then I start thinking of new ways that I want people to see me.  I’m not sure I could make that work with someone else’s face.”

A pregnant woman smiled awkwardly as she stumbled out of a pair of pants.

Myrah had decided that she didn’t like the button up cardigan that she had on.  It was too thick and bulky.  No matter how cold it was today, she knew that eventually the summer’s heat would arrive.  “Do you think you ever had a moment when you and Thom were outside looking at the stars?”  She asked suddenly as she started unbuttoning the front.

Jill paused.

Seeing the change in her friend reflected back at her through the mirrors the builder’s wife stopped and turned around.  “I didn’t mean anything sexual.”  She said sounding almost flustered.  “I meant, did you ever look through that telescope and think ‘This is what I was always meant to do’?” 

The girl pursed her lips thinking.  “I guess it wasn’t quite like that.”  She answered thoughtfully.  “I didn’t go out there and just suddenly want to be an astronomer or anything.  It was more that I felt very, very comfortable doing it.”

“Like it was natural.”  She said more as a statement than an actual question.

“Yes.”  Jill nodded.  “I don’t know why it felt that way either.  There was something about watching the shooting stars over our house that was magical.  I spent hours trying to find planets using one of those dumb maps of the night sky that they give you at the museum.  It was fun doing that.  I just felt completely relaxed out there.”

The builder’s wife nodded.  “You knew you’d found something that was for you.”   

“Yes.  It got me excited too.”  The girl continued.  “I had all of these emotions going on at the same time and I’d never really had any of them before.  It wasn’t that I thought I could ever make a career out of it.  It was just that I wondered why I had never tried it before.”

“That’s interesting.”  Myrah said.  She turned and once again began to unbutton the sweater.  In the corner, the pregnant woman put on the pants that she’d been wearing before and began bunching up several new pieces of maternity wear to take to the check-out.  For some reason, her face looked all too familiar. 

The builder’s wife watched her collecting her purchases.  Silently, Myrah tried to rack her brain in order to find a time that she’d ever felt the way that Jill had described astronomy as being about anything at all in her own life.  Maybe her family, once but these days not even the Saab gave her a thrill.  Wallace was right.  She’d never had her moment.

In the mirror Jill began to turn back and forth, admiring the way that the sweater made her appear.  “You should come out and try looking through the telescope with me some time.”  She suggested encouragingly.  “We could go out to the beach and try to find another galaxy or something.”

Myrah smiled.  “Maybe.”  She said.  There was a slight quiver in her voice.  “That’s your thing though.  I’ve got to find mine on my own.”

The girl busied herself by pretending to adjust the waistline of the sweater.

In the time that she’d been living at their house, Myrah had come to really admire Jill.  What she’d once mistaken for vapid silence she’d now come to realize was thoughtful consideration.  The girl could invent new hair styles, she could find the planets of the solar system from a map, she didn’t own a car and she rarely watched TV.  Images of products didn’t affect her.  She seemed to exist an another plane of consciousness.

“I’ve never bought a sweater this close to spring before.”  She said, looking up at the builder’s wife in the mirror.  “Do you really think this is a good decision?”

Myrah turned, facing her directly.  The girl looked amazing in the black turtleneck that she had on now.  It perfectly accentuated her breast and hips which were unfairly proportioned to the exact ideal that marketing dictated the female form to be molded in.  “They’re 50% off.”  She said with a jerk of her shoulders.  “How can you possibly go wrong?”

Jill frowned.  “I have a sweater like this already.” 

“Well two can’t hurt.”

The girl shook her head, pulling the garment off.  “I think I’ll wait.”  She said.  “A coat would be better.  I wish that Sanjay still worked at Decoy’s and Deer so I could ask him which one to buy.”

“Suit yourself.”  Myrah replied as she tossed the sweater that she was holding into a pile on the floor.  “I can tell you this though, Decoys and Deer don’t make squat that any self respecting woman should be caught dead in.”

“I don’t know.”  Jill shrugged following her example and tossing the turtleneck into the corner.  “They make good outdoor wear.  I could probably use something like that if I ever go out to the beach to stargaze.”

Myrah regarded her as she began buttoning up her blouse.  “Did you know that Sanjay prays at the Taj Mahal?”  She asked.

Jill looked up.  “He does?”

“Yep.”  She answered with a nod.  “Jack says that he sees him and a bunch of other foreigners from NASA almost every day pull up there in a van and pray.”

“That’s so unique.”

“Yep.”  The woman continued.  “Jack’s been letting them come even though there’s construction that’s been going on.  He doesn’t want to end up on the wrong side of the space agency and get his site shut down again.”

“Can we go?”  The girl asked eagerly.

Myrah thought about that for a minute.  She’d never really seen any kind of Muslim holy ritual before so the idea intrigued her.  “I don’t know why not.”  She replied after a moment giving her head a little jerk to the side.

Jill smiled.

The fact was that Myrah was at a loss for things to do with her.  Clara had disappeared following the bus accident and the drunken confession that she’d given afterwards at the restaurant and Tara didn’t particularly like the younger woman.  As long as the girl was with the builder’s wife, the teacher continued to make up excuses as to why she couldn’t hang out. 

“Are you getting anything?”  She asked, looking up at her friend.

“No.”  Jill said, looking around at all of the cast off clothing.  “I think I’ll wait until I talk to Sanjay.”

With that, they exited the dressing room and came face to face with their missing neighbor Randy Kinkaid.

The End

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